Skip to main content

A better understanding of the Capability Maturity Model

Having been a programmer for the first few years of my career - I moved to quality assurance some years ago to get a better understanding of processes around building quality software products. My first assignment was to work with an external consultant and ensure that a 500+ member organization was assessed to be at Level 3 of the Capability Maturity Model (CMM). As a programmer my typical lifecycle was to get requirements over the phone, come up with my own design in my head, code it, unit test it and move it into system and integration testing. There was not much planning or process to the whole thing - just churn out as much as you could in the shortest amount of time and system and integration testing done by the client would tell you all your defects. So when I entered the world of quality assurance it was a whole new world.

One of the first things I learnt was the necessity of having a Quality Control (QC) Function and a Peer Review Activity to validate the fitness of the product being built but what I never figured out was why was the QC Function part of Level 2 and Peer Reviews part of Level 3. As part of that organization we really did not go through being assessed at level 2 before we went for level 3. We implemented all the process like Level 2 and Level 3 were all compressed into one big Level. So both the functions got implemented together and we found it very hard to actually get both working seamlessly.

Subsequent to the successful implementation of CMM for that organization I moved on to start a team of my own. We started to build products but they were getting killed at the User Acceptance Testing phase. So we built a sound requirements management practice and a testing (QC) practice and we ensured that what we delivered met the expectations of the clients. And these two practices happen to be Level 2 practices. Once we had this working very well we realised after that is that this is only one aspect of quality in software and that is the functional aspect of it. There was a completely different aspect and that was the quality of code and the QC practice was not able to address this need. It is at this point of time we started looking at peer reviews and ensuring that the code met certain benchmarks. We are now seeing our testing cycles come down and the code starting to perform better and thus improving the overall level of quality.

Another example was initially we did not have much historical data or experience in giving estimates or managing the project within the estimates and it was not unusual to go over the estimate many times over (Level 1). This forced us to come up with better estimation techniques and project management practices for individual projects (Level 2). Having done this for a couple of years we are now trying to consolidate all the good practices that we have gathered over time into a single place to implement in future projects so as to standardise the way we do things and to make it easy to implement projects (Level 3).

I am now realising that even though we are not implementing the CMM model we can actually relate our experiences to the various levels and the practices within the levels. It is very important to let one practice become institutionalized before the next practice is put in place and over time all of this comes very naturally. So I don't think agendas of a lot of organizations to achieve a certain level in short pre defined intervals of time is sustainable to actually see the benefits of it. It is important to allow the practice to develop and mature to become useful. The practitioners need to be enlightened about the usefulness of a practice and enlightenment takes time and effort - it does not happen over a training. But then will the economics behind getting CMM or CMM(I) assessed allow things to mature and take its time - I don't think so. So anyone wanting to get assessed to become CMM (I) should ask themselves are we getting assessed for marketing reasons or to actually improve things.


Popular posts from this blog

Online Encumbrance Certificate in Andhra Pradesh

You can get an encumbrance certificate online in AP now. In order to get it you have to perform the following steps. Go to the website Click on Citizen Services -> encumbrance -> Search Click on Yes in the screen that appears Fill in the entries that appear in the search screen. You will have to get quite a few details in so it will help to have a copy of the registration document available with you. Once you finish entering all the details click on Submit. It will then go to a new page with the list of items that matched the search displayed. Click on the check box of the list of encumbrance certificates that are needed and click on submit. This will open a new popup window with the encumbrance certificate. You can then print this certificate. What is this useful for Anyone buying new property can go and verify the current owners of the property that is shown on this certificate in the column Name of PartiesExecutant(EX)&Claimants(CL) with the copy of

Cricket Grounds in Hyderabad

This is a repost of the article I published on the 10th of Jan, 2008 as I have added a new ground - Lahari Resorts. View Larger Map In this post I will try and update the list of cricket grounds that i know in Hyderabad. The grounds that I have listed till now are MCH Play ground, Ameerpet Francis (Do not have the contact number but go to the ground and ask for him). The charges are Rs. 1100 for the ground. They do not charge for anything more. You get the ground from 9:00 AM to 4:00PM. The ground is small. Welfare Center, Sanath Nagar Dhanraj Babu (+91 9394556356). The charges are Rs. 1100 for the ground. They charge you an additional Rs. 500 for the mat and Rs. 100 for cleaning and drawing lines and stuff. They are supposed to give you the ground from 9:00 AM to 4:00PM but what they do is that they pocket extra money from another team wanting to play and give the ground out to them for the remainder of the day assuming that you won't play for the whole day. So what happened th

Problogger guest post

Today my guest post appeared on . I wrote about 9 Tips to Start Blogging Successfully . Let me give you a bit of a background about where this article originated from. I have been blogging for close to 3 years now but I have been doing it seriously only for the last 2 months. I then analysed what were the things that I should have done in order to have become a successful blogger based on what I have noticed on the ones that have become successful. The final analysis of my study is what I put into that article and it is what I am trying to implement since the last 2 months. Reading the comments it was exhilarating to notice that some of the readers actually thought Darren was writing the post :-). It was also nice to notice that many readers agreed with my analysis and that strengthened my belief that what I have written if followed will work. How did I get to do a guest post on ? A little more than a week ago Darren invited bloggers to do guest pos